How to Keep Track of Time in a Novel

Time and dates can be straight forward or complicated.

  • Are you writing a novel that happens in order of events?
  • Do you jump back and forth in time?
  • Are you writing a time travel novel?

The farther down the list you go, the more complicated keeping track of timing becomes. My novels are in the order the events occur, and I can’t imagine how difficult it is to keep track of a time travel novel.

On a basic level, I use a calendar on my computer. I put key events on a day. This helps me make sure I didn’t make an error.

Things I check include:

  • day of week in a scene
  • scenes are in order
  • an event isn’t happening on a day off, a statutory holiday etc. when a person wouldn’t be at work
  • clues aren’t referenced before they happen
  • when villain is introduced
I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of the details of a scene and combined with the calendar I hope I find any errors in timing before the novel goes to my literary agent.
As an added bonus, when you complete the calendar, you should have the key elements you need to write a synopsis. Anything that helps write the dreaded synopsis has to be good. Right?

What tools to you use?

I made a calendar in Excel but is there anything better out there. I’d really like to know.

Thanks for reading . . .


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